Dear Christopher Friend,

 

Have you ever considered that a story from your life can change someone else’s life for the better? We believe it can, so we invite you to join us throughout the year of 2016 for Leadership in Mercy – Hope, a storytelling platform aimed at highlighting the many ways that people have been transformed by the call to bring mercy into the world. 

 

Attached you will find a write-up on Leadership in Mercy – Hope, which coincides with the Jubilee Year of Mercy declared by Pope Francis. We hope you will take the time to learn about our program and share with friends and loved ones how everyone can get involved in spreading this powerful message of hope in our time.

 

If you’ve ever felt called to reach out to someone and found that in doing so, your life was immeasurably enriched; if you’ve ever found yourself in need of a helping hand and been met by the mercy of another; if you’ve ever witnessed or learned of profound acts of mercy that transformed people’s lives, we want to hear from you! 

 

Please share these life-changing stories with us via letter—or email them to mail@christophers.org. Also, encourage others to do the same so we can put a spotlight on the good news of God’s mercy at work in the world. 

 

Thank you for being a Christopher friend and for lighting candles in the darkness. May the healing presence of God’s mercy be with you and your loved ones throughout this jubilee year.

The Christophers Present…

 Leadership in Mercy – Hope

      The Christophers are pleased to present a storytelling platform focused on leadership initiatives that answer God’s call to bring mercy into the world. We invite people of all backgrounds to submit stories of family, friends, and leaders in their midst as well as first-hand accounts of their own efforts to reach out to others in a spirit of mercy.

In a homily declaring the upcoming year an extraordinary Jubilee dedicated to mercy, Pope Francis said, “I am convinced that the whole Church will find in this Jubilee the joy needed to rediscover and make fruitful the mercy of God, with which all of us are called to give consolation to every man and woman of our time.” 

Many of us have stories of being drawn deeper into the transformative power of mercy, whether through a kindness we have chosen to perform or the mercy others have shown us. These are the kinds of stories we seek to highlight in Leadership in Mercy – Hope, and they are stories the world needs to hear. 

We encourage everyone to take a bit of time to consider the stories of mercy in their midst and the people whose lives have been transformed by the call to service. We are particularly interested in the kind of small vignettes that shed light on the unexpected connections people make when they open their hearts to those in need. Everyone has a story to tell and we encourage people to spread the word about Leadership in Mercy – Hope, so we can all join together in spreading the good news of this Jubilee year for mercy!  

- Jim Collins


Missionaries of the Poor

For the past two years, I have had the opportunity to travel to Kingston, Jamaica to live and work alongside the Missionaries of the Poor (MOP).  This experience has been transformational and has deepened my own faith.  The founder of the Missionaries of the Poor is Father Richard Ho Lung, who once said:  “The call to serve the poor is an invitation to happiness.”  These words become alive when you actually live the life of serving the poor, even for a short period of time.  In the following paragraphs, I would like to explain to youwho the Missionaries of the Poor are, who their founder, Father Richard Ho Lung, is, and share some of my own experiences working alongside the Missionaries of the Poor.

The Missionaries of the Poor is a religious order founded in 1981 and dedicated to "Joyful Service with Christ on the Cross" to serve the poorest of the poor. It was started in 1981 by Father Richard Ho Lung, O.J. in Kingston, Jamaica and has now grown to over 550 brothers from 13 countries and located in eight different countries.  In 1997, on the Feast of the Holy Rosary, the Missionaries of the Poor were formally recognized by the Vatican as a religious community.

One of the most striking characteristics of the life and works of MOP is the award-winning Caribbean-style Christian music that they produce. Most songs are written by Father Ho Lung and performed by Father Ho Lung & Friends.  The music generates revenue for the mission.

Fr. Richard Ho Lung is a Jamaican, born to Chinese parents in 1939. His father and mother were born in Hong Kong, but came over to Jamaica as immigrants.   His family was Buddhist but he ended up converting to Catholicism and later became a priest with the Jesuits. For a while, when he first became a priest, he served in Boston but always wanted to come back to serve the poorest of the poor in Jamaica.  This desire resulted in the formation of the Missionaries of the Poor in 1981.  His work and dedication to the poor have led many people to refer to him as the Mother Teresa of the Caribbean.  In addition to his music, he has written several books, including one entitled “Diary of a Ghetto Priest.”

To provide a little context on the people they serve, they are most often the poorest of the poor, and they often have no family, no one to care for them, are often developmentally or physically disabled and sometimes found literally abandoned in the gutters of Kingston.

My own experience in the Missionaries of the Poor began two years ago.  I went with a group of people from Our Lady Star of the Sea parish in Staten Island.    I am from Westchester County and a friend from Staten Island invited me to go with people from his parish and surrounding parishes.    

When you go to Kingston, it is not like anything you can imagine.  You see the poverty in the streets, the ramshackle homes and you immediately recognize that it is a very dangerous city when you notice homes surrounded by walls with barbed wire on top and a steel door guarding the entrance.     The Missionary of the Poor center is no exception.    Despite the surrounding community, inside the walls there is an oasis of carefully tended gardens and the building.  

While living at the mission, we lived the life of a Missionary.    We woke up at 5:30 a.m., had Mass, morning prayer and adoration.  This lasts about an hour and half.  The music at Mass was joyful and inspirational with a Caribbean flair.  The brothers’ reverence during Mass and prayer was inspiring.   After prayers, we ate breakfast then went to one of the six centers operated by the Missionaries of the Poor serving different populations of people.

I will not tell you that walking into the centers as a new person is filled with joy and an immediate transformation of heart.  For me it was a gradual softening of my heart, letting go of my busy life and doing things that I would have never ever imagined doing.    The first day I was there, we went to one of the centers called Faith Center. We were asked to bathe 12 men, many of whom were dying, some of them from AIDS.   While doing the bathing, almost every sense I had was overwhelmed.  Between the sight of the dying men, the smell, the sounds of the men when in pain as we gently tried to move them.   At the end of the day, I shared with one of my friends that this was not for me.   He encouraged me to stay.    With the encouragement of my friend and deciding to fully participate in the prayer life of the missionaries, I felt the Lord begin to work on me.  I no longer saw a sick and dying man that I was going to bathe, I saw Christ.  As each day went by, I was enthusiastically getting up, praying and ready to go out to the centers to serve.   We did various things, including shaving men, applying women’s nail polish, putting lotion on dry arms and legs, clipping finger nails and toe nails, and giving haircuts.  This happened at the different centers:  Faith Center, Lord’s Place, and Jacob’s Well.  It was amazing watching the people who were not only cared for by the brothers but by each other.   Everyone helped to the best of their capacity to make their home operate with the help of the volunteers and brothers. 

There were several memorable events on my visits.    I will share two in the paragraphs below: 

The first one was the story of Mr. Walters.  Mr. Walters was an elderly man who I helped care for and who passed away at the end of my week there.    I still recall how I found out that Mr. Walters passed away.  I saw one of the brothers who told me that the man I fed earlier in the week went home to Jesus.   He looked at me square in my eye and said, “When you go home to Jesus yourself, he will tell you, when I was hungry and sick you fed me.”  When I thought of the enormity of that statement, I felt as if Christ was talking to me himself.  He concluded with reminding me “that the poor knew you byname.”  I asked the brother, “What do they do once a resident dies?”  He looked at me and said, “We have a Mass and bury them ourselves.  Each one of them will leave us with the dignity they are entitled to.”

The second story I will share was getting to know the missionaries themselves.   The missionaries are from all over the world, and it was amazing to get to know them and witness their faith.  These men were focused on service and Christ. I enjoyed the dichotomy of my normal life and the life of the brothers.   I do remember one of the Brothers said “you came here to live the life of the Missionaries of the Poor so you need to live it as we do.” Once I let go of my life in the USA and began to pray and serve and pray again, my paradigm shifted.   My life in the USA is hectic, with a corporate and demanding job, three hours of commuting a day and commitments at home and community. Experiencing the life of a missionary for just a week made me realize I was not fully participating in the apostolic life.  I was surprised by how much I changed from wanting to leave on the first day to craving to be a part of that life, going back once again, and wanting to go back again.  Living without the distraction of emails, cell phones and televisions, and increased prayer certainly helped me to get to that point.    

My intent in sharing my story was not about me or what I experienced but more about the amazing journey of Father Richard Ho Lung, his co-founders and the brothers and sisters of the Missionaries of the Poor.   I realized while I was there, what would happen to the residents of the MOP if not for Father Richard Ho Lung having the courage to start his mission?   The outcome for the MOP residents would not be very promising. They live each day, being cared for, loved and in community.

After my first time in Jamaica last year, I reflected on something I heard at Mass while in Jamaica. The priest said, “Sometimes Jesus Disrupts Us.” We were certainly disrupted during this trip, and Father Richard Ho Lung was disrupted when he chose to serve the poorest of the poor in his hometown of Kingston, Jamaica.

I never could have imagined what I saw and did but Jesus prepares us each step of the way. Putting his statement about Jesus disrupting us into context, the priest added, “If you allow Jesus to disrupt you, what makes you a little nervous no longer does.”We lived like the poor, fed and cared for them and now what seemed impossible is now possible. If Jesus disrupts you, do not be afraid.  He will mold you, and shape you and bring you closer to him.

To Sister Cecilia with Love and Gratitude,

          We want to go tell it on the mountain and proclaim our gratitude and love to Sister Cecilia of the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary who is leaving Manhattan and the Welcome Table at Saint Francis Xavier where she has spread bounteous joy for twenty-three years to the guests and everyone around her! 

           Braving storms and heat waves 89 year old Sister Cecilia would always be there with that twinkle in her eye, radiant smile and just the right caring word... all emanating from a goodness so vast and loving that the Grand Canyon couldnʼt hold it all!

           On the two long tables near the exit Sister Cecilia created just the banquet table Jesus would have planned! Something for Everyone..the sick,children,spanish,troubled, desperate; all searching for that sign of hope and grace which she gave them. There were Christopher News Notes, Our Daily Breads,The Troubled Mind,small,readable books by Norman Vincent Peale, Itʼs Not Fair, Trusting God When Life Doesnʼt Make Sense; bright slinkies adorning colored cards with wise messages for us to choose from (in spanish also). Beautiful photos of nature and animals to brighten up peopleʼs lives, rosaries, prayer, birthday and thinking of you cards and ones with God Bless You on them and a smiley face so that you might place them in your pocket close to your heart! When Sister Cecilia wasnʼt there,which was rare, we felt it and missed her! Everyone blessed to have been in her presence felt strengthened and that much closer to God! 

           Thank you Sister Cecilia for everything that you have done! Even if you arenʼt here, your spirit will be! Fortunately, the Bronx isnʼt too far away so we are ever hopeful that the angel of the St. Francis Xavier soup kitchen will grace us with a visit, with grateful love!

 

- Bettina Ridley

     Last year, I covered a story for Narratively on the topic of Native American inculturation within the Catholic faith. My journey began at the National Shrine to Saint Kateri Tekakwitha in Fonda, New York, and took me to the 75th annual Tekakwitha Conference in Fargo, North Dakota. Along the way, I had the opportunity to venture to the Mohawk Nation territory of Akwesasne, a 33 square-mile reservation occupying both sides of the Saint Lawrence River in northern New York State and Canada.

      There, I met Orlo Ransom, an ironworker who fell two stories in 1985 while on the job in New York City. He broke his back in two places, broke four ribs and fractured his skull, and the doctors said he needed to undergo a risky surgery to have any hope of walking again.

Orlo’s wife, Alma, a former chief of the Akwesasne government, says, “There were 4,000 Mohawk ironworkers in New York City at the time, and large numbers of them lined up in the hallway of the hospital while he was in intensive care, waiting to see if he needed anything, a blood transfusion or anything else.”

     “I got more visitors than the governor,” Orlo says.

Fearful of what this surgery would do to him, they refused the operation, turning instead to Saint Kateri. And Orlo astonished doctors with his slow yet steady recovery. He lost three inches in height but walked again, and he retained a sharp mind into old age, a gift for which Alma offers special thanks to the Creator. She highlights that prayers of thanksgiving are the traditional Mohawk way of communicating with God, and even during those trying times they constantly gave thanks for the gifts bestowed upon them.

     Alma went on to become a vocal leader in Kateri’s cause for canonization, and in 2012 she and Orlo joined with several hundred Mohawk people to attend the canonization ceremony in Rome. Many of those present had their own stories of faith and healing, and the piece I eventually wrote touched on one such intercession within the context of exploring the practice of blending indigenous spirituality into the rituals of Catholicism.

      Regarding Kateri’s relation to Mohawk culture, Alma says, “She was a strong Mohawk woman. Just because she became Catholic doesn’t mean she stopped being Mohawk.” For this reason, Kateri is a symbol in the Native American Catholic effort to remain connected to the profound truths expressed within the spirituality of their ancestors.

      Orlo and Alma’s prayers of thanksgiving to the Creator even in dark times answer the call found in both Mohawk and Catholic spirituality to express gratitude to God regardless of the circumstances, and the leadership they have shown throughout their lives remains a beacon of light along the road of Native American Catholic inculturation.

 

– Garan Santicola

Here’s a link to the story I wrote: http://narrative.ly/stories/where-sunday-mass-is-in-mohawk/. Alma is featured in one of the photos, wearing the same regalia she wore during the canonization ceremony of Saint Kateri.

              My wife had a medical conference in Philadelphia in February, 2015.  I tagged along with her and while she was attending the conference one day, I was walking around the area, taking in the sights, etc..  It was a bitterly cold day, one where the wind (which was blowing hard at times) would cut right through you.  As I contemplated what to have for lunch, I noticed a homeless man sitting on top of a sidewalk level grate trying to catch as much heat coming through the grate as possible.

              I walked across the street to order my lunch and while standing in line trying to decide what to get, I knew I had to get something for that man as well.  I kept looking out of the window to make sure he didn't leave that corner and while doing so, a woman who was also waiting for her meal must have seen the same man.  She asked if I was looking at him and I told her "yes".  She asked if I would give the man some money that she wanted to give to him and I told her I would be happy to do that.  She gave me a $20 bill and I knew the man would be quite happy to receive that.

              After receiving my meal as well as what I ordered for this man, I proceeded back to that corner and got down on my knees to give him the food.  I asked him if he had anything to eat that day and he told me that he did.......a banana, which he said he broke in half and gave some to a friend.  I then gave him the food that I ordered for him, along with a large cup of coffee and the money that the woman had given to me for him.  He proceeded to ask me what my name was and I told him "Jeff".  He then said "Jeff, I'm going to pray for you".  I was immediately taken aback by his statement then I asked what his name was and he told me it was "Gary".  I said "Gary, we're going to be praying for each other then".  I then asked him to promise me that he would try to find a warm place for the night and he said it would be difficult but that he would try.  As I was leaving, I said "God Bless You Gary" and he had a huge smile on his face.

              As I was walking away from this man, someone came up to me and said that they had seen what I had done.  I told him that it's very easy to do and if you're able to do it, just do it.

 You'd think that would be the end of my story.  When I returned home, I was retelling this story to my parish priest and he put a much different spin on it for me and because of what he said, it will help me to never forget "Gary".  He said that in many cases, homeless people only have a very few possessions and that he gave two of them to me.  He gave me his name (Gary) and his faith (by telling me that he was going to pray for me).  I am eternally grateful to him for allowing me to think of that encounter in a much, much different way.

              I am ever mindful of those who are not as fortunate as I am and I try to help whenever I can.  I know that by the grace of God we all may be just a few short steps away from being in a much harder life situation than what we may be today so I try my best to fully appreciate who I am, what I have and what I can do for others.

 

Best Regards,

Jeff Daws

The Witness of a Junebug
By Martha Smolka,
Holy Cross Parish, Youngwood, Pennsylvania

              Twenty years ago I started participating in weekend retreats at Saint Emma Retreat House in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. I found this to be a very rewarding experience. The first weekend retreats were with women from my church. Later, I would find other times when I would just register for a weekend retreat of my own.

            As time went on, I decided I wanted to register for a weekend silent retreat. The people who knew me felt I could never do this. However, I registered for the retreat, I found this to be an even greater rewarding experience. I was discovering God in a way I had not experienced Him before.

           My desire to grow in a spiritual way was coming alive within me. I found peace when I attended the retreats. The next goal was to attend a five-day silent retreat. When Saint Emma Retreat House sent their schedule for retreats for 2006, I knew this was the time I had been waiting for. This would be the year for my five-day silent retreat!

           The retreat was to start on the twenty-first of May. What a God-incident, my birthday, a gift to self to spend time away with God! I was very excited. I blocked the time off on my calendar. I didn’t want to schedule anything to interfere with this special time.

           I arrived at Saint Emma Retreat House and registered. The retreat started with the evening meal. Our retreat master was Father Thomas Acklin, OSB, from Saint Vincent Archabbey in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. Dinner was followed by the celebration of Holy Mass.  Following the Mass Fr. Thomas asked us if we would like to have Eucharistic Adoration around the clock throughout the retreat. He reminded us that God would be in our presence during Eucharistic Adoration and would speak to us in many ways. We would probably not hear bells and whistles but being in God’s presence we would be still and listen.

           I had not been part of a retreat before where the Eucharist was exposed twenty-four hours a day throughout the retreat. This was so special. I would awaken during the night and go to the Chapel. Someone was always in attendance. It was so beautiful to see so many people wanting to spend time with the Lord.

           On Thursday evening, the last night of the retreat, I went to the Chapel to spend some time in prayer. Father Tom had shared with us in one of his talks what to do if we were distracted by thoughts during adoration. He told us to just refocus on Jesus and the Eucharist.

          Thursday had been a very warm day and the opened windows in the Fatima Chapel were without screens. As the evening progressed and the lights were turned on, it attracted many different bugs. The one bug in particular became very distracting. It was a June bug. It came flying at my head. I swatted it with my hand. It landed on its back on the pew in front of me. It was moving around on its back with six or more legs struggling to right itself to its feet while making a funny noise. I have never had a fondness for June bugs and thought they would die if they can’t return to their feet. I’m not quite sure why I thought this.

           At this point in time, I realized that I had been distracted. The purpose of being in the Chapel was for focusing on Jesus in the Eucharist; not focusing on a June bug. Immediately my focus returned to the Eucharist.

           I don’t know how long I was in adoration of the Eucharist, but eventually my eyes were drawn back to the June bug. It had righted itself and was slowly moving on. At this point in time there were the words God spoke to me, “Martha, for many years you were like this June bug. You struggled and were not able to move forward. However, when you started to focus on me you were, through my grace, able to right yourself and make progress.” Wow! Words of wisdom came through loud and clear.

           The next morning when I met with Father Tom, I shared my experience in the Chapel with him. I shared my concept that a June bug will die if it can’t return to its feet. He smiled and reminded me that people can die emotionally and spiritually when God is not part of their lives. He reminded me that it was God who had been with me through the many struggles. He had provided the people and the help I needed to bring to my awareness the One who was to be the focus of my life, Jesus Christ, my Lord and my God! I have through God’s grace, righted myself to move forward in my spiritual life!

Parallels Between Palm Sunday and a Green Meadows Visit: Sitio- I Thirst

          At the prompting of my mother, also a resident at Green Meadows nursing home, I visited Loretta Schrum, age ninety-one and ailing, near death, who happens to have been born on the same date as I, November twenty-second. She was happy to see me since I often spoke with her in the past. Yesterday she was bedridden but no one was at her bedside and so I stopped in.

          The first thing she asked for was “water,” not the stale water on her night table but a clean fresh glass that I promptly delivered. Then she asked me for a “kiss” which I gladly supplied. Then she took my “hand” and wouldn’t let go; she still has a strong grip. The whole ritual reminded me of Mt: 25, “Whoever offers food, drink, clothing and visits to others in need” shall inherit the kingdom.”

          I stopped to minister to Loretta but she really ministered to me. I did eventually give her my blessing for which she was thankful, smiling through her pain. Later on in the day when I rethought my whole visit, tears streamed down my face. I was feeling something again. Perhaps the musical I saw the evening before called Celebrate helped revive my drooping spirit and put me in touch with my feelings again.

          When I read through the Palm Sunday liturgy again, I noticed how short words such as “oil, water, jar, table and friends” were so meaningful in Jesus’ life and ministry and now in my own.

 - From Brother Benedict Janecko, O.S.B.

A Benedictine brother of over fifty years at the Archabbey of St. Vincent in Latrobe, Pennslyvania.

Leadership & Mercy: How it affected and shaped my life

            Born in 1926, I was reared during the Great Depression by my beloved and merciful parents—Oscar and Nell Wheeler Burnett—my first guides, teachers and leaders who shared life and love selflessly with me and with my two brothers and two sisters. My Father, a Protestant, earned the family’s income as a bookkeeper; my Mother, a Catholic, was a housewife. My Father cheerfully provided adequately with his limited salary for the bonuses and onuses of our family including the children’s primary and secondary educations in Catholic schools. It was my pleasure to witness the laudatory examples of love and fidelity that my parents had for God, each other and their cherished children and neighbors.

             Years ago, I completed a memoir entitled “A South-Georgia Catholic Family: Oscar and Nell’s Progeny: A good tree cannot bear bad fruit (Matt 7:18).” My parents glorified the Lord by their laudatory lives which manifested the fruits of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, patient endurance, kindness, generosity, faith, mildness and chastity (Gal 5:22-23). Their awe-inspiring legacy of leadership, mercy, compassion and empathy beginning some 95 years ago still endures.

            My family lived in Sacred Heart Parish in Savannah, GA, staffed by a Benedictine Priory of Belmont Abbey, Belmont, NC. My parents had me meet Jesus Christ—the epitome of leadership, mercy and redemption over the past 2015 years. As a vulnerable infant, Father Maurice McDonnell, OSB, Pastor, mercifully baptized me—causing me to become a member of Christ’s body—the Catholic Church—and entitled me to the Sacraments of the Church to fortify me in my weak human nature with supernatural graces so that I might be the person God created me to be—an adopted son of God and brother of Jesus Christ, my Savior. Pope St. Leo the Great prayed, “Through the mystery of the blessed incarnation may we come to share in the divinity of Christ who humbled Himself to share in our humanity.” John Newton (1725-1807) had it right when he wrote, “Amazing grace! How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me! I once was lost, but now I’m found, Was blind but now I see…”

            A sickly child, my parents with love and mercy always and without hesitation or health insurance provided for all my medical needs: in infancy my tonsils were removed to prevent infections; Scarlet Fever caused my extended absence when attending the First Grade in Primary School but I was promoted to the Second Grade; I was diagnosed with having a chronic lazy (amblyopia) left eye with required numerous visits to the ophthalmologist; and as a child, I had an appendectomy. The Christian quality of leadership and selfless mercy of my parents taught me to follow in their revered footsteps.

            During World War II, I graduated from Savannah’s Benedictine Military School in 1944. Afterwards, I sought to join the Armed Forces to bond with my patriotic relatives and friends but with my lazy eye I was declared “4-F”. With my persistence my draft board provided numerous follow-up eye exams. Finally a military physician said to me, “You really want to join the Armed Forces?” I replied, “Yes.” I was immediately inducted and served honorably until December 1946. I was grateful for the officer’s military leadership extending understanding and mercy to me under these circumstances.

            Requiring higher education, I was mercifully given a scholarship to attend Savannah’s Armstrong Junior College. Upon graduation I was accepted by Emery University’s School of Law which was financed by the G.I. Bill. Upon graduation, I needed an office to practice law. Gilbert Johnson—a seasoned lawyer and father figure whom I had never met—invited me into his established offices where I practiced law for some six-years. Law was electrifying in adversarial situations but not fulfilling for me.

            Earlier in my youth I had admired the Benedictines that I had met and respected. Since practicing man’s laws was not gratifying, I thought I’d practice God’s law: Love the Lord, your God with all your heart, your soul and your strength - and love your neighbor as you love yourself. In my spiritual journey, I was accepted through the kindness of Belmont Abbey’s monks and have been fulfilled as a professed monk for over 57-years following the Rule of St. Benedict (6th Century A.D.). This worldwide Benedictine family endures and prospers today, still under the extraordinary leadership of Saint Benedict who taught his disciples how they might live together in harmony, fraternity and peace in spite of their individual differences: by letting them prefer nothing whatever to Christ and may He bring them all together to everlasting life (RB 72:11).       

            Rt. Rev. Oscar C. Burnett, OSB

            Abbot Emeritus—Belmont Abbey

Last week, four nuns of the Missionary Sisters of Charity, the order founded by Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, were among sixteen people killed by armed men who stormed the convent and nursing home in Aden, Yemen, where the nuns had devoted themselves to serving an interreligious group of elderly and infirmed patients. Responding to the attack, Pope Francis called it “diabolical” and referred to the nuns as “martyrs of today” who “gave their blood for the Church.”

            The martyred nuns are Sister Anslem, from Ranchi, India, Sister Judith, from Kenya, Sister Marguerite from Rwanda, and Sister Reginette, also from Rwanda. Indian Salesian priest Father Tom Uzhunnalil, who had been staying with the sisters, was abducted during the attack and has not yet been found. He had taken shelter in the convent after the Holy Family church in Aden was attacked and burned by unidentified gunmen last September.

              Due to recent troubles in Aden, the Missionary Sisters of Charity arranged for the return of the nuns to India, but they chose to stay and serve the 80 patients at the convent who relied on them for care. It is a tragedy for the Church and the world to lose such good people to this kind of senseless violence. But the witness of Sisters Anslem, Judith, Marguerite, and Reginette will live on. They were true leaders in mercy and may their courage inspire us all to follow more faithfully in the footsteps of Christ.

   

            - The Christophers

"Courtesy of The Apostolic Vicariate of Southern Arabia"

        Mother Angelica, founder of the Eternal Word Television Network, died on Easter Sunday at the age of 92. The Catholic News Service reports that she grew up in poverty, quoting her as saying, “We lived in rat-infested apartments – our life was so hard. I was interested in survival so I didn’t do well in school. It’s hard when you’re hungry and cold to study.”

        She joined an order of cloistered contemplative nuns in 1944 and professed her solemn vows in 1953 as Sister Mary Angelica of the Annunciation. In 1962, she founded Our Lady of the Angels Monastery in Irondale, Alabama, to fulfill her dream of starting a religious community that would appeal to African Americans in the southern states.

        In 1981, she started EWTN with several hours of programing carried by three cable networks and built it into one of the largest religious media operations in the world. Her talks remain a lasting treasure of EWTN broadcasting as they capture her vivacious and loving personality.

Mother Angelica is one of the great leaders in mercy of our time. She will be sorely missed, but we pray now for the intercession of this holy woman who died and rose with Christ throughout her life and on this Easter Sunday. 

- The Christophers 

  Photo Credit: EWTN

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